Friday, September 26, 2014

40 Year Itch : The King in Fighting Competition

We got bored easily.
-guitarist Gary Green

   While so many prog rock bands of the 70's wanted their music to wash over you with entire sides devoted to overtures and repeated motifs, Gentle Giant packed as many tunes as possible in a single song . Give a listen to "Playing the Game: from The Power and The Glory, released in September of 1974.

    First and foremost, Gentle Giant was a rock band with a great "rock band" - like stage presence. They got the greatest pleasure playing with rhythms, going contrapuntal so often they were labeled "pretentious" by rock critics. In response, Gentle Giant affixed a huge neon sign that read PRETENTIOUS above the stage. Now THAT is rock and roll!

Derek Shulman
    Released a month after the resignation of President Nixon, The Power and the Glory is a concept album about the inherent corruption in politics

I will steer the helm of all the nation as the captain
take my rewards for all the good I'm doing now, 
and no words that I'm the knave will alter my philosophy 
for if any are heard,
 the games started again 
I'll never ever lose.

  There is virtue in playing music as algebraic as Gentle Giant's. Unfortunately, it's not of the commercial variety. The Power and the Glory charted, but only peaked at #78 in the United States. A shame because this is their best album...and offers a remarkable listening experience.

The most recent reissue of The Power and The Glory is in Hi-Resolution Stereo and 5.1 Surround sound. The Blu-Ray comes with far out visuals.

September 1974 also witnessed the release of Gryphon's Red Queen to Gryphon Three, an instrumental concept album about chess by the prog rockers who had been touring with Yes. This isn't in-your-face prog! It's mostly medieval instrumentation paired with strings.

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